© Martyn Carruthers
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What is Sense of Life?
Man’s Search for Meaning
Ultimately, man should not ask for the meaning of his life, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.
By Sense of Life we refer to your evaluation of your purpose and any meaning you ascribe to your life.
For us, your Sense of Life represents and integration of your relationships, your identity and your values. It began with your first judgments about your world long before you could rationally judge your world. It is because of this that your Sense of Life can differ radically from your metaphysical view. You create Sense of Life by integrating emotions.
For us, Sense of Life is not just an evaluation. It is your integration of countless evaluations. Over the course of your life, you integrate emotions and value-judgments about your relationships. Your Sense of Life is your emotional evaluation of who you are and what makes sense.
Role of Sense of Life
There seem to be two major effects of your sense of life. The first, that your sense of life influences your focus; what you attend to and think about when your conscious mind doesn’t evaluate. That means that it will be the deciding factor in an experience before your conscious mind kicks in, and the deciding factor in an experience where you don’t apply your conscious mind.
The second effect of your sense of life is about action. It is your basic driving force; it gives you immediate inclination toward activity. If you have a positive sense of life, you will feel efficacious, and more inclined toward activity than somebody who feels that the world is against them.
Although introspection can be difficult, the main benefit of introspection is to look at your life patterns of relationships, as well as your feelings and thoughts. When you think, what do you think? What do you value artistically, and why? What are your standards for friends? Notice when your thoughts and your emotions are in conflict.
Eugene Gendlin (psychology professor at University of Chicago) created a format for introspection that he called focussing, that is useful for assessing sense of life. Focusing follows six gentle steps. If you find difficulty, don’t push, just move on gently until you experience something changing.
1. Clear space Be still and silent. Relax and pay attention inwardly, in your chest and abdomen. Feel what comes when you ask, “How is my life going? What is the main thing for me right now?” Wait and let answers come slowly from your sensing. When something comes, do not go inside it. Emotionally relax and say mentally “Yes, that’s there. I can feel that, there.” Maintain space between you and that. Then ask inside “What else do I feel?” Wait again. Most people find several sensations.
2. Felt Sense From whatever came, select one personal issue to focus on. Do not go inside it. Stand back from it. There are many parts to that one issue – just feel all of these things together. Pay attention there where you usually feel things, and in there you can get a sense of what all of the problem feels like together. Let yourself feel the unclear felt sense of all of it.
3. Handle What is the quality of your unclear felt sense? Let a word, a phrase, or an image come up from the felt sense. It might be a quality-word, like tight, sticky, scary, stuck, heavy, jumpy or a phrase, or an image. Stay with the quality of the felt sense until some quality fits it well.
4. Resonate Go back and forth between the felt sense and the quality (word, phrase or image). Check how they resonate togother. Notice if you feel a little body signal that lets you know there is a fit. To do it, you have to have the felt sense there again, as well as the word. Let the felt sense change, if it does, and also the word or picture, until they feel just right in capturing the quality of the felt sense.
5. Ask Now ask: “What is it about this whole problem, that makes this quality? (which you have named or pictured)” Sense the quality again, freshly, vividly (not just remembered from before). When it is here again, tap it, touch it, be with it, asking, “What makes the whole problem so ______?” Or ask, “What is in this sense?” If you get a quick answer without a shift in the felt sense, just let that kind of answer go by. Return your attention to your body and freshly find the felt sense again. Then ask again. Stay with the felt sense till something comes along with a shift, some sort of slight release.
6. Receive Receive in a friendly way whatever comes. Stay with it awhile, even if it is small. Whatever comes, this is only the first and there will be others. You can continue after a little while, but stay with it for a few moments.
If you SENSE and TOUCH an UNCLEAR HOLISTIC BODY SENSE of your issue, then you have focused. It doesn’t matter whether a body-shift happened or not. You don’t control it.
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